The wristwatch has undoubtedly become a statement item for the modern man, but, believe it or not, it was women who first made the statement. Dating all the way back to the 16th century, wristwatches were seen as a feminine pursuit. While men proudly sported pocket watches, it was women that were the first to wear watches on their wrists, primarily in the form of jewelry. Although certainly admirable for their elegant and artistic exterior, their function was not of much consequence. In the 19th century, many manufacturers such as Vacheron Constantin and IWC were producing lavishly decorated bracelet watches for women, adorned with jewels set in elaborate case designs.
A slightly later example would be a 1950s platinum Rolex bracelet watch that we offered recently in our December 6 auction in New York, set with approximately 135 marquise, circular and baguette-cut diamonds, but with a concealed and barely-there dial.
Recently, fine jewelry has met fine watchmaking in an impressive collaboration embraced by many manufacturers. More watches embraced by women now possess both aesthetic qualities as well as inner magic, offering beauty and brains, and the result is so much more enjoyable. Owners are able to understand the complexity of their timepiece and its many possible functions. It is a pleasure to see our clients at Christie’s taking this approach to collecting.